WTA Finals Singapore 2017

WTA Finals: Wizard of Woz

Caroline Wozniacki celebrating after beating Venus Williams last night. She is the first Dane to win the season ender since its inception in 1972.
Caroline Wozniacki (above) celebrating after beating Venus Williams last night. She is the first Dane to win the season ender since its inception in 1972.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Caroline Wozniacki celebrating after beating Venus Williams last night. She is the first Dane to win the season ender since its inception in 1972.
Caroline Wozniacki celebrating after beating Venus Williams (above) last night. She is the first Dane to win the season ender since its inception in 1972.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Fearless Wozniacki tames Venus on her 8th attempt to win her biggest title - the WTA Finals

Caroline Wozniacki has no superstitions when it comes to tennis, other than her belief in the number eight and its ability to bring her good fortune.

So as she walked onto court yesterday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium to face a familiar foe who had trounced her seven times previously, she placed quiet trust in that numeral.

Hope, that if a first win were to come, that if she were to notch the most significant victory of her career so far, her lucky day would be now - on her eighth attempt.

Only, Wozniacki's 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Venus Williams yesterday in the final of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global had little to do with chance.

It had, instead, much to do with the brand of aggressive tennis the 27-year-old delivered consistently all week.

Unafraid to swing for winners against an opponent whom she said treats her like a little sister, Wozniacki also posted only a few unforced errors - eight, incidentally - over a match that lasted 1hr 29min.

In improving on her runner-up finish from the 2010 edition (lost to Kim Clijsters) and clinching the biggest title of her career so far, the world No. 6 also became the first Dane to lift the coveted Billie Jean King trophy since the year-ender's inception in 1972.

Said Wozniacki, who was still shaking from the weight of the moment as she basked in the adulation of former greats and fans: "I'm really proud of how I have played all week and how I have fought and how I really produced some great fighting out there."

She did have to fight off nerves and keep a resurgent Williams at bay in the second set though.

After going 6-4, 5-0 up, within touching distance of handing out her fourth bagel of the week for the title, Wozniacki was broken twice by a defiant Williams, who crept back to 4-5.

"I kind of felt like it was a little bit of an uphill battle, to be honest," said Wozniacki, who will rise to world No. 3 with this result. "I knew she was stepping it up, she had nothing to lose at that point, and she really went for it. Things were really going for her."

With the momentum and crowd behind the veteran American by then, a player known for her defensive prowess went back to what had worked all week: fearless tennis.

Added Wozniacki: "I think I managed to stay aggressive. Even when I was playing against the big hitters, I still managed to not be pushed too far behind the baseline, which was key this week."

Indeed, she has had a stellar week, where she topped much of the statistics, even in serves. The 21 aces she served up at the tournament put her at the top, over Williams, who posted 19.

The American, having spent close to two hours more on court than Wozniacki by the time they duelled yesterday, said she simply found her rhythm too late.

This was the third notable title she has come agonisingly close to this season, after also losing out at the Australian Open and Wimbledon finals.

She said on court last night: "I didn't seem to come up with my best tennis until the end. I'll try to play a little better earlier next time."

With a hefty trophy perched next to her as she faced the media late last night, questions about gunning for a maiden Grand Slam title inevitably came up for Wozniacki.

She politely asked to be allowed to enjoy this victory for now, for the expectations of another season to come only when January comes round.

She said: "I'm proud of my achievements, and I'm proud of being able to just fight my way from a little kid to all of a sudden being one of the best tennis players in the world.

"Very few people can say that, and I'm proud of that."

Wozniacki favours the number eight for several reasons, one of them being that when turned on its side, it resembles the infinity sign.

Surely, now both the numeral and this title will hold infinite meaning.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2017, with the headline 'Wizard of Woz'. Print Edition | Subscribe